Laibach/Gramercy Theatre/May 12, 2015

Avant-garde music group Laibach was formed in 1980 in Trbovlje, a mining-industry town in Slovenia. At the time, Laibach collaborated with and provided the industrial rock soundscapes for local art and theater groups. In a country tense with the struggles of nationalism, neo-fascism and communism, the militant-appearing Laibach was so on the edge that authorities shut down the band’s performances and later forbid Laibach to exist. Slovenia’s congress ultimately allowed the controversial group to use its name and perform again. Laibach describes itself as a collective, practicing anonymity, with membership hidden under four names: Eber, Saliger, Keller and Dachauer. Members of the group still use these pseudonyms and avoid the use of their individual names. Laibach’s eighth and most recent album, Spectre, was released on February 28, 2014.

At the Gramercy Theatre, kinetic cinematic images were projected onto screens behind Laibach, but the musicians barely moved and the minimal verbal communication between songs was delivered through a pre-programmed synthesizer. Laibach’s first hour-long set largely showcased songs from the Spectre album, compositions powered primarily by synthpop and ambient sounding electronic music. The synthesizer then announced a 10-minute intermezzo, and a clock on the screen began the countdown. Exactly 10 minutes later, the band was back on stage, ready to perform a collection of earlier album tracks for another hour. Many of these songs drew from a more aggressive and sometimes gothic-sounding industrial rock with neo-classical interludes. The layers of instrumentation cascaded as Milan Fras’ sinister-sounding baritone and Mina Špiler’s lighter, heavenly vocals made for a foreboding combination, often tamed by a percolating dance beat. Laibach encored with three better known songs, “Leben Heisst Leben,” “Geburt Einer Nation” and “Tanz Mit Laibach.” While Laibach’s concert was unable to capture the provocative and subversive mystique that it sports in Eastern Europe, the music was left of center enough to be compellingly interesting for American audiences.

 

Turnstile/Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom/May 16, 2015

Based out of Baltimore, Maryland, Turnstile formed in 2010 and is fronted by vocalist Brendan Yates, who is also the drummer in Trapped Under Ice and Diamond Youth. Turnstile released its debut album, Nonstop Feeling, on January 13, 2015. The band is comprised of Yates, guitarists Brady Ebert and Sean Cullen, bassist Franz Lyons and drummer Daniel Fang.

Turnstile was among the newer bands being showcased at the annual hardcore show known as the Black N’ Blue Ball at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom. Unlike when he is confined to the drums in other bands, Yates was all over the venue’s large stage, working the crowd as he shouted bullets into the microphone. Some songs were eruptions of fast and frenzied energy, but many songs were slower and sludge-filled, almost like stoner rock, with deep, dark grooves. Turnstile embraced the New York hardcore sound of the 1980s, making Turnstile a promising new band on the hardcore scene.

 

Candiria/Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom/May 16, 2015

Candiria formed originally as a technical death metal band in 1992 in Brooklyn, New York. Over time, the band found its own sound by blending elements of metal, hardcore, hip-hop with funk, jazz and ambient music. This progressive slant to hardcore and metal was getting some traction when a major traffic accident while on tour in 2002 hospitalized all of the musicians with critical injuries. This led to a long, painful recovery period for the band. Since then, several members left and some later returned. The band’s lineup is presently comprised of vocalist (and sole consistent member) Carley Coma, guitarists John Lamacchia and Eddie Ortiz, bassist Michael MacIvor and drummer Kenneth Schalk. Candiria’s seventh and most recent album, Kiss The Lie, was released in 2009.

Candiria came out of hiatus and played its first proper New York show in nearly 10 years at the Black N’ Blue Bowl at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom. Candiria performed 10 songs from its five middle albums—curiously, the band performed no songs from the first or last albums. Coma spun and jumped as he barked dryly in near-rap syncopation to eclectic soundscapes. The riffs were hard and heavy and carried the bulk of the songs, but unexpected breakdowns interrupted the melodies with jazz-infused chord progressions. MacIvor played complex bass lines that sometimes took off on their own as Schalk’s drumming subtly ventured into brief experimental polyrhythms. Nevertheless, the core of Candiria’s set was Coma’s meaty vocals and the band’s seriously beastly grooves. Somewhere between technical metal and hardcore, Candiria’s adventurous set energized the enthusiastic fans to moshing and stage diving.

 

36 Crazyfists/The Studio At Webster Hall/May 16, 2015

36 Crazyfists formed in 1994 from the remains of three local bands in Anchorage, Alaska. Musicians from the three bands jammed together at a benefit concert and stayed together. After exhausting the Alaskan music club circuit, 36 Crazyfists relocated to the Seattle/Tacoma area of Washington and then to Portland, Oregon. The metalcore/nu metal quartet has released seven studio albums; the most recent, Time and Trauma, was released on February 17, 2015. The band currently consists of vocalist Brock Lindow, guitarist Steve Holt, bassist Mick Whitney and drummer Kyle Baltus.

Headlining The Studio At Webster Hall, 36 Crazyfists performed a melodic metalcore that was fierce and crushing, at times almost to the point of extreme metal. Lindow growled like a beast, and the band’s relentless pounding exploded mercilessly into a raging metal assault. Interestingly, the guitarists chopped on deep, coarse chords during Lindow’s vocals, then spun into lighter, lyrical leads when Lindow stepped back from the microphone. With song structures reminiscent of ’70s hard rock bands but with the power of newer metal hybrids, tonight’s performance showed that 36 Crazyfists has the potential to please a wide range of metalheads.

 

William Control/The Studio At Webster Hall/May 17, 2015

William Francis was born in Seattle, Washington, where in his younger drugs-and-alcohol-fueled years he led police on a high-speed car chase and subsequently spent time in jail. He started playing guitar as therapy and in 2003 began singing for post-hardcore band Aiden. With Aiden on hiatus in 2008, William Control became his alter ego, an electro/new wave artist whose debut album told the story of a man’s last night on Earth because he wished to kill himself. Control’s fourth and most recent studio album, The Neuromancer, was released on April 4, 2014. Since late 2014, Control has performed with a band, The Neuromantic Boys.

At The Studio At Webster Hall on his The Punishment Tour, Control projected an ominous aura somewhere between The Twilight Saga and Fifty Shades Of Grey. Control was a dashing figure on stage, nattily dressed in button-down shirt, tie and matching vest and trousers, but with striking jet-black slicked-back hair, pale features and dark guyliner. Crooning to pre-programmed synthesized tracks and augmented by a live bassist and drummer, the songs were gothic, deep-grooved industrial darkwave compositions whose lyrics often focused on fantasy, submission, evil, death and suicide. In the end, it was dance music, thick with bombastic beats and layered synthesizer melodies, topped with Control’s speakeasy-styled vocals. But if a fan needed the sexual fetish theme, one could stop by the merchandise table and purchase underwear imprinted with Control’s logo and the words “Dominate,” “Submit” or “Yes Sir.”

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